Penguins are one of the few earthly creatures that evoke both awe and ‘aww’ in the minds of anyone who sees them. Although they do not fly, they have adopted a unique waddle that makes them so cute to look at. There are different types of penguins, and almost all of them are native to the cold, icy regions on the globe.
Your child may be interested in penguins and might want to learn more about them. If you wish to be prepared to answer your child’s questions, read on, as we bring you some fascinating penguin facts for kids.
Types Of Penguins
There are several species of penguins, depending on their habitat and appearance. But, most taxonomists agree there are approximately 17 main types of penguins.
- African penguins: They are the only penguins found on the African continent. They thrive on the islands between Namibia and South Africa. These penguins are also known as ‘jackass penguins’ because of the loud and annoying sound they produce to communicate with each other.
- Chinstrap penguins: Found mostly on the islands in the South Pacific and Antarctic regions, these penguins are identified by the black plumage covering their heads. The plumage makes them look as though they are wearing a helmet.
- Emperor penguins: Indigenous to the frigid shores of Antarctica, they are the largest and heaviest of penguins. They are exclusively confined to Antarctica and do not migrate to any other place.
- Adélie penguins: Populating the coastal areas of Antarctica, these penguins are known for their social skills as they are often spotted in large groups.
- Gentoo penguins: With a red–orange beak and white feather cap, these cute penguins are found around the Falkland Islands and the sub-Antarctic islands of South Georgia.
- King penguins: Known for their beautiful appearance, these penguins have long bills and vivid coloration. They are the second-largest type of penguin and are found in the southern Atlantic Ocean, the South Indian Ocean, and Macquarie Island.
- Macaroni penguins: With a population spread across the Subantarctic to the Antarctic Peninsula, these penguins are characterized by their unique yellow-feathered crest over their head. The crest resembles a macaroni, a feathered-hat donned by men in the 18th
- Rockhopper penguins: These penguins are the shortest penguins and can be identified by their short beaks, pink webbed feet, and red eyes. They are found along the coastlines of the islands in the northern parts of Antarctica, from Chile to New Zealand.
- Humboldt penguins: Inhabiting the coastal areas of Peru and Chile, they have a distinctive black face with pink skin near the eyes and below the bill. They travel long distances at sea in search of food.
- Fiordland penguins: Endemic to New Zealand, they can be identified by the wide, yellow band stretching from the nose to around the eyes and down to the neck. They are the only penguins that are known to breed in rainforests.
- Erect-crested penguins: Native to the Bounty and Antipodes Islands of New Zealand, these penguins have a black upper body, white lower body, and a yellow eyestripe and crest.
- Snares penguins: Named after the Snares Island in New Zealand, these penguins have a yellow eye-brow stripe that starts from the base of the bill and stretches to the back of the head to form the crest. They also have pink webbed feet and pink skin at the base of their large red-brown bill.
- Magellanic penguins: Living along the coasts of Chile, Argentina, and the Falkland Islands, these penguins are characterized by their black body, white belly, and a patch of pink skin on the face.
- Royal penguins: Found around the Macquarie Island and Bishop and Clerk Islands in Australia, these penguins are identified by their large orange-colored bill, a black head, and pale face. The also have a yellow-orange crest that starts from the forehead and extends to the sides and top of the head.
- Yellow-eyed penguins: Also known as hoiho or tarakaka, these penguins are found only in New Zealand. They are identified by the band of pale yellow feathers that surrounds the eyes and extends to the back of the head.
- Little penguins: These are some of the smallest penguins and are found in Australia and New Zealand, where they are known as fairy penguins and little blue penguins respectively. Apart from their tiny size, they are characterized by their pale blue to dark grey plumage.
- Galapagos penguins: Endemic to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, they are the only species found above the equator. However, with their population dwindling by the day, they are on the verge of extinction.
30 Penguin Facts For Kids
Here are a few fascinating penguin facts for kids.
- The word penguin is believed to be derived from the Welsh term “pen gwyn,” meaning “white head.”
- Penguins are flightless birds that use their wings as flippers to swim underwater.
- All species of penguins except the Galapagos penguins live in the Southern hemisphere.
- When a female emperor penguin’s baby dies, she often kidnaps an unrelated chick.
- You will not find a single penguin in the North Pole.
- Penguins are excellent swimmers and can dive to depths up to 30m in search of food.
- Extremely social by nature, penguins live in large groups known as ‘rookeries.’
- An emperor penguin can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes underwater.
- Researchers are still not fully sure of the total number of penguin species dwelling on earth.
- Penguins usually jump before diving as it helps get rid of the air bubbles trapped in their feathers and boosts their speed in the water.
- The gentoo penguin is the fastest penguin underwater, with a speed of around 20mph.
- The supraorbital gland located above a penguin’s eye helps filter out salt from the bloodstream, thus enabling it to drink seawater. The excess sodium is then purged through either its bill or simply by sneezing.
- Penguins do not have teeth but backward-facing fleshy spines that help swallow their catch.
- The emperor penguin is the only species that spends the freezing Antarctic winter on land. It has an extremely high density of feathers, the highest among any bird
- The now-extinct species of a penguin named Anthopornis nordenskjoldi, with a height of 1.7m, was taller than the emperor penguin.
- The chinstrap penguin is known to be the boldest and most aggressive type of penguin.
- The black and white plumage feathers of a penguin provides excellent camouflage in the water. Its black back is difficult to spot from above, while the white front looks like the sun rays reflecting off a surface when seen from underwater.
- In order to replace their old worn-out feathers, every year, the penguins undergo a process known as the ‘catastrophic molt,’ wherein it sheds all of its feathers in one go. Before going through the molt, the penguins bulk up by eating lots of fish to help maintain their body weight. After the molt, they restrict themselves to the land and fast until they grow new feathers.
- Penguins eat fish, crabs, krills, squids, and other seafood they can catch underwater.
- Penguins have the uropygial gland, also known as the oil gland or preen gland, near the base of their tail. The oil secreted by the gland coats the feathers and helps insulate their body and also reduces friction when zooming through icy water.
- In 2014, scientists found the remains of a ‘colossus’ or ‘mega’ penguin species, believed to be 37 million years old, on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula. If the findings are to be believed, this species of penguin measured two meters tall and weighed more than 115 kilograms (1).
- Of all the penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin is one of the most endangered species. There are less than 4,000 birds of the species left in the wild (2).
- Most penguins are monogamous and breed with one single mate during a mating season.
- After laying eggs, the female penguins leave on a hunting trip to look for food. In their absence, the male penguins protect the eggs under a flap of naked skin, known as the “brood pouch,” on its abdomen.
- Penguins have knees that are hidden beneath their feathers.
- Emperor penguins often huddle together to maintain body warmth in the cold Antarctic weather.
- African penguins have a pink patch around their eyes that holds a special gland, which helps them maintain their body temperature in hot weather.
- Scientists make use of high-resolution satellite imagery to count the number of penguins in the Antarctic region,
- Not only does the crested penguin has a yellow crest, but it also has red bills and eyes.
- Penguins are cute to look at, but they are not at all friendly with humans. If you ever come close to a penguin, do not try to touch or cuddle it. This is because they have strong beaks and can bite you if they feel threatened. Instead, observe them from a safe distance and enjoy watching them waddle.
Sadly, due to climate change, a majority of penguin species are endangered. Let’s hope that the global climate somehow improves, and our feathered friends are saved from extinction.
2. Yellow-eyed Penguins – one of the rarest penguins in the world; Penguins International
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